Condominiums have become increasingly popular throughout the state. Units at The Muse of Madison, a condo complex located in that community, sell in the $600,000 range.

In a state where the prices of single-family homes are still seeing double-digit appreciation despite the slowdown in sales, condominiums have become an affordable, convenient option for many Connecticut residents. The trend has resulted in condo sales and prices that are steadily increasing, and experts do not see that coming to an end anytime soon.

According to statistics from The Warren Group, parent company of The Commercial Record, single-family home sales in Connecticut were down nearly 4.5 percent from 2004 to 2005, while the median sales price increased by almost 11 percent.

Condo sales, however, rose more than 5 percent from 2004 to 2005, and the median sales price across the state jumped by more than 15.5 percent.

The relatively affordable prices of condos were the main reason for those healthy numbers, according to Barry Rosa, Prudential Connecticut Realty’s director of new homes and land.

“That’s a big, big driver,” he said.

In some parts of Connecticut, the median price for condos is half that of single-family homes, Rosa said. That is particularly true in Fairfield County, where the demand for condos has driven the median sales price up 14.5 percent over the past year, but where condo prices remain at a fraction of single-family home prices.

In 2005, the median sales price for a single-family home in Fairfield County was $520,000, while the median sales price for a condo was $292,000. In Stamford, the median price for condos was less than half that of single-family homes. Single-family homes commanded a median price of $649,000, while condos fetched a median price of $300,000. The number of sales in Stamford dropped for both types of homes, with single-family home sales volume falling more than 15 percent and condo sales tapering off by almost 10 percent.

Norwalk and Danbury also showed big differences in the prices of single-family homes and condos, but both towns saw median condo prices climb at a much faster rate than single-family home prices.

The median price of single-family homes in Danbury climbed almost 12 percent between 2004 and 2005, while condo prices jumped more than 16.5 percent. In Norwalk, single-family home prices rose almost 13 percent, while condo prices increased more than 20 percent.

The median prices of condos in other parts of the state are also more affordable than single-family home prices, but the discrepancies are not as large as in Fairfield County. Hartford County’s median home price in 2005 was $229,000, while the median sales price of a condo was $162,500. In New Haven County, the median sales price of single-family homes in 2005 was $238,500, while condos sold for a median price of $159,700. New London County’s median sales price for single-family homes was $242,000, while the median sales price of condos in 2005 was $164,900.

But in places like Trumbull, where the inventory of condos is relatively new compared with single-family homes, condo prices can be the same or higher than single-family home prices, according to Rosa. Newer condos tend to be bigger, and their age in comparison with that of single-family homes makes them desirable.

But in Hartford, Stamford, Norwalk and New London, the inventory of condos is older, Rosa said.

“They do not command the same kind of numbers as new product,” he said.

‘Definitely Location’

Affordability is not the only reason increasing numbers of Connecticut residents are choosing to live in condos, however. Paul Beckman of William Raveis Real Estate’s Madison office markets condos in a luxury complex called The Muse of Madison, where units sell in the $600,000 range.

Aside from luxury, the big selling point on the condos has been the convenience. Twenty-seven of the 30 new condos are already sold, and factors like location and easy maintenance have helped propel those sales.

“It is definitely location,” Beckman said.

The condos are in the center of Madison, within walking distance to the train station, grocery stores and other shops. Beckman has noticed a trend toward more convenience and less dependence on cars, he said.

But getting rid of chores like mowing the lawn and cleaning gutters has been another reason people are flocking to condos.

“The [easy] maintenance … is a major factor,” Beckman said.

Younger couples often both work at full-time jobs, and a condo is a good turnkey solution, Rosa said.

For empty nesters and older homebuyers, not having to worry about outside maintenance allows more time for traveling and hobbies.

“They’ve done that [home upkeep],” Beckman noted. “They want to have their time off now.”

Some newer condos are even detached, giving homebuyers the benefits of the privacy of a single-family home, while a condo association still organizes the outside maintenance, Rosa said.

Both Rosa and Beckman said they expect condo sales to remain healthy. The trend started four or five years ago, Rosa said.

“Condos are very hot right now,” Beckman added.